The Dallas Mavericks seemed as if they found their stride, winning seven of nine before the All-Star break.
Usually, the break helps every team with the added rest, and with Dirk Nowitzki only playing eight minutes in Sunday’s All-Star game, he too had extra rest before the Mavs started the second half of the season.
Dallas was coming off an 81-73 win in Indiana on Feb. 12, by far its best defensive effort of the season.
On Feb. 18, the Mavs fought tooth-and-nail with the champion Heat, and had an 85-84 lead after three quarters.
LeBron James scored a season-high 42 points and keyed the Heat’s 14-0 run in the fourth to pull away from Dallas on way to a 1117-106 victory.
Chris “Birdman” Andersen contributed a season-high 18 points off the bench.
Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 22 points along with nine rebounds and seven assists. It was his highest rebounding total in nine games when he grabbed 17 against Houston on Jan. 29. The seven dimes matched his total from his previous four games, and matched a season best when he had seven in back-to-back games on Dec. 7 and Dec. 9.
Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Brandan Wright had 12 points a piece.
The Mavericks fell from 6th to 8th in the West, a mere 0.14 (percentage points) away from the Phoenix Suns.
Dallas has the easiest schedule in its next four between the three teams (DAL, PHX, Golden State).
The Mavs play Feb. 21 in Philly versus the Sixers followed by the Pistons in Detroit on Feb. 22. They play in New York on Feb. 24 before returning home Feb. 26 against the Pelicans.
They can’t take any of those four teams lightly. It’s their best chance to gain some ground, but don’t let the bad records fool you, Dallas has to take full advantage of the weaker teams.
The Mavs have had their way with New Orleans this season, and have beaten the Sixers and Pistons prior, but did have trouble with Carmelo and the Knicks in their only meeting, losing 92-80 in Dallas. Balanced scoring would most likely hand the Mavs a win over New York since Melo is the only scorer on the team.
A nice defensive game such as the one versus the Pacers would be icing on the cake. I fully expect the Mavs to be back in the 6th spot after the next four.